Know anyone who has been an Englewood city councilmember, neighborhood watch captain, volunteer elementary-school reading coach, leader of a low-income assistance nonprofit and chamber of commerce …
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Know anyone who has been an Englewood city councilmember, neighborhood watch captain, volunteer elementary-school reading coach, leader of a low-income assistance nonprofit and chamber of commerce president?
That’s Bill Clayton, a community staple born and raised in Englewood — and, now, the city’s 2019 Citizen of the Year.
Inspired by family members who volunteered, Clayton has lived a lifetime of service, holding positions like president of the board of The Family Tree, a nonprofit that helps address homelessness and domestic violence in the Denver metro area. He’s also been president of what’s now Integrated Family Community Services, a nonprofit that helps low-income residents in the south metro area.
The man who’s seen Englewood from so many different angles received a unanimous vote by the city council, which selected him as citizen of the year March 18.
During February, citizens were invited — through notices on social media and on the city’s website — to nominate an Englewood resident for the award. The council chose from among three nominees.
Clayton served on council after being elected in 1987 until 1991.
Here’s a look at how Clayton, 72, got his start, the memories that stick with him and what he thinks of how Englewood has evolved through the years.
How much time have you lived in Englewood?
I was on the staff of Walt Disney World for three years. So, other than that, I’ve lived here all my life.
When the concept for Disney World started to solidify, I decided I really wanted to be part of that opening. I went there as a construction coordinator.
What motivated you to get involved here?
My dad was a ball turret gunner in World War II. He had been stationed at Lowry Air Force Base and settled down. The first thing he did was sought out the Red Cross and volunteered. He didn’t have any money, only some savings. He just felt it was important to volunteer. He joined the Englewood Lions Club, and he was president when he died. He was in charge of military services for the Red Cross when he passed away.
My other life example was my uncle David. David was a city councilman here in Englewood and was quite active in his church, but more than that, David was just the kindest man I’ve ever known in my life. If you were walking down the street in snow without a coat, and he was driving by, he would literally stop and give you his coat.
I wanted to make the world a little better place every day. My son said, “Dad, something I learned from you is, when I was a kid and we were camping, you’d make us go and pick up everything. I’d say, ‘Dad, we didn’t drop this stuff.’” And I’d say yeah, but let’s leave it a little better than we found it.
I wish more people in the world would adopt that notion.
What was most rewarding to you?
I’m happy to have participated in all the activities because I’ve been surrounded by wonderful people. And I really believe that. And as you look around, even when you find a councilmember and think, gee, what a jerk, you really have to respect the fact that he was willing to do it. Or the library board, zoning board, water board — if we didn’t have those volunteers, we would not have any of the benefits we have in our lives.
What’s your view of city council today?
I wouldn’t say it was more or less combative than when I was on it. I think the city was a little more fiscally solvent back then than it was now.
Think about who you live with: When you’re both bringing home lots of money, you’re happy. Everybody gets along. But if you don’t have the money, or if your roommate spent the money you were going to buy dinner with on a new pool cue, you have discord. Well, cities are like that. When there’s a ton of money to spend, everyone gets along. When there’s not, it’s always somebody else’s fault.
Englewood went through the recession just like everyone else did. And Englewood has struggled to make the shopping center (CityCenter) down here successful. And as a consequence, there hasn’t been much money.
What’s surprised you about Englewood through the years?
Englewood seems to have a built-in reluctance to modernize and to become a more forward-looking, nicer place to live. We’ve kind of resisted upgrades to our housing stock, and now, what’s happening is developers are coming in and upgrading it but not necessarily in a way most residents would like to see.
Anything else you’d like to say?
This truly is a tremendous honor to be selected, and I’m humbled and grateful and, at the same time, I’m reminded of all the other volunteers in our life … Our life is made better every day because there are people volunteering.
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